When one thinks Italian, three things come to mind — pizza, pasta and olives. But in reality there is a whole world beyond those three things in Italy dying to be explored, tasted and relished.
The Westin Gurgaon’s Italian speciality restaurant ‘Prego’ attempts to do that and achieves it magnificently. Under the gaze of their fine Florentine chef Alessandro Breddo, the restaurant gives you a culinary tour of Italy on a plate.
Located at the lobby level of the hotel, the Californian style Italian restaurant offers both indoor and al-fresco dining.
The journey begins in the Ascoli region with that eternal favourite — the olives — the dish being Olive all’Ascolana, which is fried olives with a stuffing of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. For the vegetarian palate there is another ‘Millefoglie di melanzane’ with a mille feuille with eggplant and buffalo mozzarella. The former of the two starters was nice and crunchy with the latter being the exact opposite — soft, creamy and beautifully grilled.
For the non-vegetarians, the gastronomic journey begins with a Venitian favourite in the carpaccio, delicious thinly sliced beef, and roasted carrots served with grilled asparagus and saffron mayonnaise. For me the scallops were perfectly grilled right through and the saffron mayonnaise complemented them beautifully.
No Italian meal can be complete without a round of pasta. Being a seafood fanatic, the Carbonara di Mare was heaven for me. The thin strands of spaghetti had soaked in the juices from a combination of shrimps, octopus, squid and sole, all of which was only lightly fried and seafood perfectly grilled. The fusilli alla norma or Fusilli pasta with sautéed eggplant with oregano, basil in a tomato sauce and not to be missed either.
In addition to strong Mediterranean and Western- International roots, Chef Alessandro has also pioneered the art of Italian cookery. This strong foundation stems from Chef’s distinct association with many renowned hotels and restaurants such as Holiday Inn Russia, Crowne Plaza Dubai, Hard Rock Cafe Italy, ViaPasto Restaurant Austria, and most recently Magnificenza Le Pavoniere in Italy. His mediterranean and Italian roots shine through in both the pasta dishes.
The antipasti and the pasta laid the foundation for the main course, which were special and sum up the Prego experience. The saltimbocca is another Italian classic, usually made of veal, prosciutto and sage, but on the night we got boneless chicken legs saltimbocca, sage and turkey ham served with sautéed button mushrooms and steamed parsley potatoes. The chicken was perfect substitute for the veal and well complimented by the turkey ham and lightly sautéed mushrooms with parsley potatoes providing little sweetness to the dish.
Once again for the seafood lovers, there was sogliola alla palermitana, or stewed sole fillet with fresh tomato, olives, capers, basil and white wine sauce with spicy toasted bread crumbs. The sole was soft, crumbling with every bite and the sauce was mildly tangy to impress the Indian palate.
The perfect dessert always lifts the dining experience and it was the same for us. We had the tartelletta alla nutella or nutella pine nut tart served with whipped cream which was crunchy, sweet and chocolatey all the same time. The highlight is the tiramisu tradizionale and their secret is soaking the ladyfinger in rum which make them soft but full of flavour which is not overpowering but creamy and little crunchy.
Though you might feel satiated with the meal, don’t miss the true Italian Gelato that this star restaurant serve- the mango, almond and lemon flavors will tickle your tastebuds like no other dessert in town.
The ambience and service at Prego call for a special mention. Impeccably done, I would say. While Chef’s magic works when it comes to food, the Starwood Hospitality and relaxed chic ambience make this restaurant a compelling destination for Italian food lovers. No wonder the restaurant was packed for dinner even on a weekday when we visited.